DEAR DR. FOX: The American Kennel Club always wants it all ways. It says that it registers dogs, not breeders or kennels, but since registration of dogs doesn't provide sufficient income -- something on the order of half or fewer are actually registered -- it also registers litters and requires breeders of those litters to register and microchip them -- a good way to track their origin. The idea was that people would then go on and register their puppies. However, they weren't bothering to do that because most of them weren't breeding or showing the dogs, so there was no need for the papers.
There seems to be a thin line between registering breeders and requiring registration of a litter. In both cases, however, they fail to deal with the middleman: the broker, who is a major part of the horror show. Brokers don't breed dogs, but they deprive puppies of everything they need to be "normal" dogs. That's where epigenetic effects would seem to begin to show themselves. -- M.D., Miami, Flordia
DEAR M.D.: I hope that the exchanges in this column about the AKC, commercial puppy mills and the genetic and environmental (epigenetic) factors that can result in much suffering and costly veterinary care will help prospective purchasers of purebred and "designer" puppies think twice. Adopt from the shelters first!
Breeders need to change breed standards -- especially extreme traits like abnormal body sizes, conformation, deformed skulls and pushed-in faces, which can mean a lifetime of distress. This issue is gaining momentum in the United Kingdom with involvement of the British Veterinary Association, Kennel Club and major animal charities. For details, see the article "Recovering Canine Health" on my website. The AKC could take the initiative here in the U.S., which we all owe to every dog.
FINDING A HOLISTIC VETERINARIAN
The best medicine is prevention, and a holistic, integrative approach to companion animal health in this 21st century calls for a revision of vaccination protocols, of feeding highly processed commercial pet foods, and of over-medicating, especially with so-called preventive medications -- like those sold to keep fleas and ticks at bay -- when there are effective and much cheaper alternatives available that pose far less risk to animals' health, and to the environment.
For further information, contact a holistic veterinarian in your area. Find a searchable list at ahvma.org. Veterinarians and veterinary students wishing to learn more can access this website, and I encourage them to become members of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association.
BOOK REVIEW: "Just Life" by Neil Abramson
The double meaning in this book's title reflects the wit and wisdom of the author, a New York attorney and animal protection advocate. His deep empathy for animals and understanding of human nature drive this page-turning thriller where city dogs, strays and owned alike, face possible extermination while their rescuers and protectors deal with the corrupt elements of government and the genetic engineering, biotech and vaccine industries covering up the reason why children are dying and putting the blame on the dogs for this health crisis. If you want a good book for summertime reading and you care for animals and justice, this is the book for you.
(Send all mail to email@example.com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox's website at DrFoxVet.net.)